04 January 2008

One small change, okay?

Since it is The Month of Resolutions, I want to ask you to consider making one small change that will benefit your life immeasurably.

Quit watching the TV news.


Yes, quit that crap. The national news is bad enough, but the local TV news is pure, unadulterated poison that I am surprised that anyone allows into the sanctity of their home.

If you don't believe me, sit down with a stopwatch and a notebook for just one day and time the newscast. How much news do they provide in one half-hour segment?

I estimate it will go something like this:
Commercials 9 minutes
Weather 3 minutes
Mindless chitchat 1 minute
Sports 3 to 5 minutes
Something that looks like a news story but is a carefully crafted press release about a new product or service, probably something medical 3 minutes (you can tell because no newsperson will appear and the subjects will not be identified by title or where they are from)
A car chase or bank robbery 2 minutes
Some celebrity and/or animal story 3 minutes
Blatant fearmongering 3 minutes
Traffic 2 minutes
Actual News 1 minute

Especially do not watch MORNING news (I include the Today show, GMA etc in this group). It is bad enough when you are fully awake and conscious, but when you are just beginning your day, do you really want to pour murder, mayhem, abuse and gossip into your tender mind?

If you can't break your news habit, just do me this one tiny favor: whenever they begin a new segment, ask yourself: Is this news? Why is this news? What do they want me to believe/think/feel?

This all came to me tonight when I was at the folks' house and the news said for the thousandth time: "After the break, a frightening new study..." and I started shouting "Be afraid! Be very afraid! Something is going to kill you! It is DANGEROUS!!"

Question: why do they want you to be so afraid all the time?


super des said...

I always get so mad at the news, for those very reasons. Sure, I don't watch tv at all anymore, but even if I did, I wouldn't watch that.
What's the point?

Bri said...

I completely agree! It makes me so angry that they spend all that time trying to make afraid of something, anything. I haven't watched tv news for years.

Bri said...

Crap. There was supposed to be a me in there somewhere, serves me right for commenting when I'm tired.

Julie said...

I am fascinated with morning shows and the way they break into different segments. A few minutes about Iraq...then quickly breaking into a story about Brittany.

Amy U. said...

My husband and I often shout something similar at the news, on the rare occasion we watch it. "Be afraid, Graham!" I'll shout. "Bacteria will kill your kids!" he'll shout back. I try not to watch it at all, either.

(Barry Glassner's "Culture of Fear" is a really great read, by the way.)


Serendipity, baby! said...

Yeah I used to live next to Detroit and I have to say that "news" there was seriously messed up. As a Canuck I really got a kick out of it (after I got over the "totally appalled" stage). I did like the news hour with Jim Lehrer though.

Average Jane said...

I never watch TV news, but it plays (soundlessly, thank goodness) on a monitor across the room from me at my office. Even glancing at it sometimes pisses me off.

Mir said...

I have a friend who has postulated that every story on the news can be boiled down to either "why water can kill you" or "I want my baby back." Every. Single. One.

It's true, too.

MsLittlePea said...

So true. I hate local news. They come on handy during a hurricane though- I'll give them that. If I want to catch the daily weather I just put on the weather channel.
I still like CNN , I'm just not watching it 24-7 though.

MsLittlePea said...

IN handy, I mean. Not on handy. That sounded kind of dirty. :O)

jonniker said...

As a journalist, I find the local network news to be insulting. I've met many of the anchors and THEY ARE NOT JOURNALISTS. They are precisely as you describe.

I watch Brian Williams because I love him, and because I think it's good to have SOME idea of what's happening from that angle, but that's about it.

Muse said...

I have taken this resolution one step further - I don't even have cable.. not even the basic channels. The decision was in part to save money, but I went without the tele for 2 years awhile back and it was amazing how much more informed I was (I stick to listening to NPR and, of course, internet news lurking via BBC), not to mention how clear my mind was when it wasn't being loaded with crap about hoochies without skivvies or how to look better (because along with our culture of fear is a culture of not good enough).
Kudos to this resolution, SueBob - I hope more readers take it to heart. :)

Chantel said...

I've been working on this for a while. Including National news and internet "news". It helps that my daughter is at home every night watching Gilmore Girls before I can turn the channel.

Mignon said...

1) On mountain time our nightly news comes on an hour earlier and I'm not ready to go to sleep right at 10, and with two kids that's the only time I get to lie motionless in bed for an extended period of time (and yes, the "extended period of time" was a small jab at my husband's, um, stamina).
2) I like local sports. I see all the local kids I've coached and the local college teams I root for, etc.
3) Jim is a weather report addict, and, as you suggested, I timed the weather report (including the teaser blurbs between the "news" stories) and it was over 6 minutes.
4) I can switch back and forth between BBC news during the "terrible things happening to children" and fearmongering reports.

But other than the above, RIGHT ON! EXCELLENT RESOLUTION!

meno said...

Consider it done.

mothergoosemouse said...

Right on. It's ridiculous, isn't it?

crunchy carpets said...

I watch the local news for entertainment really....and do the 'net thing for big stuff.

However...I LOVE watching Seattle news because they get SOOOO excited about weather there and they pretty much get the same weather we do.

Oh, The Joys said...

I've been sworn off that stuff for years. What a bunch of fear-inspiring malarky!

Count Mockula said...

I never watch it, but the promos crack me up: "Can this kitchen sponge kill you? Tonight at 11." If I'm in mortal danger, I'd like to know before I go to bed!

lildb said...



Nancy said...

Yep. I don't ever get my news from the big box anymore. It's just horrible.

Christina said...

I get the majority of my real news from the net.

And here in Ohio, our local news weather can be much longer than 3 minutes. If it's going to snow, or rain, or stay dry for too long, you can bet there's at least 10 minutes for weather.

I guess we don't have much going on around here, do we?

Chase said...

Woohoooo!! AMEN. I can't stand it!!!

I rarely even watch tv anymore. We don't have cable and don't plan on getting it. When I do watch tv, it tends to just piss me off...or make me dumber. So I try to steer clear.

Good resolution!

Suzanne said...

This post is dangerous. It encourages people to think for themselves and critically evaluate things. You know that can only lead to problems. Drinking the Kool-Aid is important, even if it can kill you.


Major Bedhead said...

Late to the party, as usual. I refuse to give up MY boyfriend, Keith Olbermann, but I swore off local and network news (and the local paper) years ago. The only time I put on the local news is to see the school cancellations on a snowy morning.

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